Excellence in Research and Scholarship

Provide leadership for discovery, through support of the fearless sifting and winnowing of our world-class research enterprise and the dissemination of knowledge in its many forms.

The sun sets on an ornate W crest icon and architectural detail on the side of the Field House.

1. Grow UW–Madison’s research enterprise and expand its global impact, supporting the scholarship of faculty, staff, and students.

Example initiatives:

Data Science Institute

Launched in 2019, the American Family Insurance Data Science Institute performs cutting-edge research in the fundamentals of data science and collaborates with industry partners to apply the work. The institute’s cross-disciplinary research has the potential to advance the burgeoning fields of artificial intelligence, genetics, drug development, and materials science.

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UW2020 Initiative

Supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, UW2020 helps to fund highly innovative, groundbreaking research at the UW. The initiative prioritizes collaborative research projects that have the potential to fundamentally transform a field of study as well as projects that require significant development or equipment acquisition prior to applying for external funding.

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VCRGE Research Funding Programs

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (VCRGE) oversees more than a dozen opportunities for research funding. The office administers funding for named professorships, mid-career awards, faculty fellowships, and conferences. Researchers can also receive support for transfer technologies from the lab to the market.

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Clinical Trials Initiative

The UW has developed clinical and translational science as a distinct discipline. With the establishment of the Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR), UW scientists are accelerating the process of clinical research—from investigation to discovery to real-life practice. It’s positioning the UW as a leading catalyst of evidence-based policies and practices.

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Institute for Research on Poverty

A nationally renowned nonpartisan research institution, the UW’s Institute for Research on Poverty is dedicated to studying the nature, causes, and cures of poverty. Collaborating with a range of researchers, policymakers, and practitioners, the institute produces and disseminates rigorous evidence to inform policies and programs that combat poverty and inequality in the US.

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A graduate student works with a robotic arm in the Wisconsin Human-Computer Interaction Lab.

2. Continue to grow faculty and staff research excellence.

Example initiatives:

Fall Research Competition

Each year, the UW provides direct funding to dozens of faculty research proposals through the Fall Research Competition. Hundreds of proposals are reviewed by four research committees representing the university’s faculty divisions—biological sciences, physical sciences, social studies, and the arts and humanities.

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Cluster Hiring Initaitive

The UW’s Cluster Hiring Initiative recruits cross-disciplinary faculty members with aligned interest in high-demand research areas. Managed by the Office of the Provost, the initiative grows the faculty and creates new areas of knowledge.

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Professorships and Faculty Fellowships

To recognize and encourage faculty excellence, VCRGE administers prestigious fellowships, named professorships, and mid-career awards.

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A building in the Hector F. DeLuca Biochemical Sciences Complex is shown, the orange and purple colors of sunrise reflecting off the glass.

3. Provide a modern research support structure that fosters innovation, promotes interdisciplinary collaboration, and drives discovery on future research challenges.

Example initiatives:

Research Core Revitalization

As competition for research funding increases nationwide, the university is centralizing its resources and support for researchers. The Office of Campus Research Cores coordinates shared equipment, technologies, training, data, and other services. The effort is saving costs and boosting productivity.

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Library Collections Enhancement Initiative

To strengthen campus research capacities, the Library Collections Enhancement Initiative is providing UW libraries with funds to respond to requests for new collections. Faculty members can propose one-time purchases related to their work. The initiative is supported by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and VCRGE.

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Multidisciplinary Research Centers and Institutes

VCRGE provides an administrative home for several multidisciplinary research centers and institutes, encompassing the natural sciences, social sciences, and arts and humanities. They generate more than $160 million in extramural research awards annually and bolster graduate education and outreach.

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Industry-Sponsored Research

Partnerships between industry and the UW support critical faculty research, lead to new technologies and discoveries, bring products to market faster, and create future job opportunities for students. The UW Office of Business Engagement was established to serve as the central campus liaison for businesses, connecting them to potential research partners on campus.

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Wisconsin Institute for Discovery

The Wisconsin Institute for Discovery (WID) is a state-of-the-art research institute that fosters interdisciplinary scientific collaboration among faculty from dozens of UW departments. With a focus on interdisciplinary fields like data science, precision medicine, and emerging technologies, WID serves as a centralized hub for cross-campus research teams and hosts forums promoting inquiry.

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4. Ensure the continued vitality, competitiveness, and strength of our graduate and professional programs.

Example initiatives:

Graduate Assistant Investment

The UW is committed to recruiting the top graduate students nationally and globally. With competitive compensation packages, the university is investing in more than 4,500 graduate students who hold campus appointments, such as teaching, project, and research assistantships. Graduate assistants receive a monthly stipend and, for those with at least a 33 percent appointment, free tuition and eligibility for comprehensive benefits.

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Graduate Research Scholar Communities

The UW’s schools and colleges have created Graduate Research Scholar (GRS) communities and fellowships to support underrepresented students. GRS communities offer a range of social, academic, professional development, and research-related activities related to their discipline.

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No. 3 in Conferred PhDs

The UW granted the third-most doctorates among US institutions in 2018, the most recent year of data available from the Survey of Earned Doctorates. More than 80 percent of graduating doctoral students rated their UW graduate program and academic experience as excellent or very good.

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NSF INCLUDES Alliance Grant

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the UW a five-year, $10 million NSF INCLUDES Alliance grant, positioning the university as co-leader of a comprehensive national initiative designed to attract and retain more underrepresented students in STEM college programs.

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